tv Panel Discussion on Investigative Journalism CSPAN April 26, 2014 2:00pm-3:03pm EDT
anything like that? >> i assign them a place in the sun. >> it's interesting when you say that. but back in the 70s i said that i wanted to grow up in this way. and it was an upper-class movement and a middle-class movement, as it was during the korean timeframe. the sisters came from this. and so they were looked upon -- to associate with them was a problem. so i said i want to go to detroit and i wanted to start this. ..
get together and have the women in the union too, and she's smiling and smiling and says, wait until they see them take all the work. [laughter] so i do think that it's the young women in college start getting out thereto, they are going to see where the they are. >> men get more conservative and women get more radicalized. >> i don't think so. >> i just want to put in a different note on this, and, actually, i teach women in political activist, doing amazing work, they believe in gender equality and sometimes don't call themselves feminists, and i'm sympathetic to it and
why they are reluctant to use the world. they won't use the word, and we have not spent time listening to them. >> next question? >> this has to do with a book i finished recently called reign of error. do you see any threats to equality of women who have public schools shut down in new jersey, new york, southern states, up in wisconsin, minnesota, one of the other states, otherwise they spend hundreds of millions every year to get people elected to school boards, study legislatures to push agendas, and one is not against the women, but get rid of public schoolings completely and turn them over to corporations. right now, if you want to know what's going on, go to the blog and read it. she was assistant secretary of
education under bush and one of the ac tects, turned around 180 degrees against it. >> okay. does anybody have a thought about that? >> [inaudible] >> come and talk at the microphone. come and talk at the microphone. >> this is a good audience. tell us about the women's rights, feminism, and corporationization of schools. >> i actually just showed the documentary "misrepresentation," a teacher in lausd high school, and one of the students near the
end of the day said that he does not want to see a woman as president, and neither does his mother, and he's african-american, and it's so hard to deconstruct when what you are saying about when they are 11 and starting to be born, it's so hard to be constructive when they don't have the academic los angeles, and i'm not talking just like counterclaim rhetoric, but identification, you know, the fact that they -- their mind is not even fully developed yet, so when you talk about juvenile justice, when you talk about why there are more people of color in the prisons, you know, and you fry to give them this historical context, when, you know, they are worried about what they will do friday night, and they don't understand, you know, the change, and so on top
of that, when we, as teachers, are exhausted and don't have time to get in the street and rally about how we are exploited or about how iworked with other contracts after years of seniority because of, you know, our superintendent decided to put this towards other systems, and, you know, this attack on teachers instead of supporting the lower class size, and, i mean, it's just so many complexities and nuances, you know, and 72% of my school is in poverty level, and i transferred from 9 a%. when you report child abuse -- >> i'm so sorry to do this. >> no, no, it's complex. >> we're over the time. >> very complex.
>> thank you. >> i feel like i can sign out by my voice will live on. >> it will. >> thank you, all, so much for being here, and, please, if you want to continue the conversation, and i sense many of you would like to, come to signing area five where they will be with their books, and thank you so much. [inaudible conversations] >> and now more from the 2014 los angeles times festival of books. our selection of journalists discuss recently published books on a panel called "the truth will out: getting the story." >> just quick announcements, be sure to turn off your cell phones. we don'tment to be interrupted. the signing areas, go out these doors, turn right. this is important. it's signing area number five, and this panel lasts for 45
minutes and we'll have questions here. come on up, write down the questions, keep them short, and the festival is often no better than the people who bring their questions to the authors and engage with the ideas discussed. we welcome your questions. after, if you don't have a chance to talk to the authors, you can do so in signing area number five, again, outs the doors, turn right. also, we're going to do tapes on c-span, so just wanted to let you know this is going to be available to be seen at a later date on c-span.
>> that is the overview, i think, that i think i'd like to the authors talk about the books and introduce them i would like to introduce you to the panelists. anni jacobson, critsing editor to the los angeles times in 2010 when she first started to record on the secret part of the american southwest known as area 51. the book -- the story that ran in the pleaings soon became a wonderful book that not only was praised for the research, but also for the writing, and anny brings the same skills to her
latest book "operation paper clip: the screed intelligence program that brought nazi scientists to america." honored by the overseas press core, a freelance journalist, cricketing event, msnbc african-american npr and magazines like national geographic, explorer, and his late education book "the wolf and the watchman: a father, a son, and the cia." walter kern, familiar with walter through the movies, first there was "thumb sucker," and then there was "up in the air" with george clooney. hollywood, obviously, knows a
good project, a good book when it sees it and seizes upon those, and let's know the movies are superb books, funny, heart breaking, poignant, all of the walter's trademarks. the new book, the true story of the murder, a mystery, and a masquerade. deeann, the any chandler of the midwest. in 2011, her 2002 -- when did 29 palms come out? >> first came in 2001, first edition. >> there we go, the 2001 edition of 29 palms, an important american writer. >> [inaudible] >> right. nonetheless, it's great.
latest book, the town sheriff and billest man hunt in mod earn california history was a winner of the 2013 # spur award honored by the los angeles press club. we have great writers, accomplished books, and at this., i'd like to turn to them and let them characterize their books to you. we can begin our discussion >> hello, welcome to the festival of books and our panel. i write about war, weapons, u.s. national security, and the programs that keep them secret. i began doing this with the book area 51. i interviewed 75 men who lived and worked at that secret base for extended periods of time,
and it included pilots, spy pilots, scientists, and security guards. this new book is about a classified military program that involves 1600nazi scientists who came here. and it had a public face, and in other words, the war department in 1945 announced we were going to bring the good german scientists here to america. what my book does is i think it aims to reconcile the difference between the secret history and that public face. one of the more interesting things i was able to do, i think, in reporting the book was interview a number of the now old children of the ranking
members of the third reick. >> i'm scott johnson, thank you for coming here. great to see you all here. my book is about my relationship with my father. he was a case officer for the cia for 25 years. i grew up moving all around the world, my father retired in the mid-1990s, and during that time, i became a journalist, foreign correspondent, and i went on to cover many of the wars of the last decade, afghanistan, iraq, and various complexes in africa, and after 9/11, my father was recruited back into the cia as a contractor, and what happened was we went to the same places. i went to afghanistan, and
little while later, you know, here's my dad, and he would be in afghanistan. i would go to iraq, and later here comes hi dad, and he'd be there. my book is sort of an exploration of that kind of dance, that he and i undertook together, part geographical, part psych logical, part emotional. at the core of it is a question that drove me which was, you know, who are you? that was my question for my father, and i think it's something that when you have a spy for a dad, it is a central question in your formative years and then as a journalist, it's more acute. my book's an attempt to answer that question, and it's a journey that takes place over half a century and pretty much most of the world.
that's -- >> i'm walter kern. my book is strange topper ganger. it's a story of my real friendship with a man who kind of didn't exist conman, a friend of mine from 1998 to 2008, and a friend who i didn't suspect was anyone other than who he said he was, and who, in 2008, kidnapped his daughter after a custody hearing in boston and revealed to be not an american, not a rockefeller, and, in fact, suspect in a 1985 gruesome murder and dismeshing of a man who was just outside los angeles in san bernardino. i attended the murder trial in 20 # 13 and looked back over my friendships with him and see all
the ways in which we danced together in a min knew yet of deception and self-delusion and, you know, vanity and posturing, and my book asks the question, you know, how are we fooled and how do we fool ourselves, not from the point of view of the person who does the fooling, but the conman seen in american literature over and over again from the point of view of the duped, the victim, me in this case, and i was privileged as a writer to know somebody who made himself up and was this far from who he really was on -- was inside to the outside could possibly happen with a human being. caused me to ask the question that scad says, you know, son of a spy, who are you really? when you're a writer, and you're the friend of an imposter, who are you, really?
i mean, writers have different kinds of relationships with the world and with their family and friends than other people, and that's one of the questions in this book. was i tex ploiting him, or was he feeling me? >> thank you so much for wrangling us here today and putting this panel together, and thanks to all of you for coming. the lathest reckoning, the biggest man hunt in modern california history, and it's based on long term speech, and by that, i write narrative nonfiction with this book, and modern desert west, and primarily the mojave, and that is often a character in my work,
and december effort reckoning is about the fatal collision tweeps a hermit and sheriff in the antelope valley, north of los angeles, and quick question, how many of you have been to the antelope valley? oh, wow, that's great. i find people in l.a. have -- either have not been there or do not realize the antelope valley is the other half of los angeles county. it's the mojave of l.a. county, the shadow side, something i talk about in the book. in 2003, the hermit and sheriff had a fatal collision at the hermit's trailer when the sheriff showed up on a trespassing call, and the hermit, with a long time grudge, had kind of been lying in wait
for any stranger who showed up, and just sort of quickly assembled his ak, and blew the sheriff away and took off, and his fight triggered the biggest man hunt in modern california history, and that's what i follow in the book, this seven-day pursuit involving thousands of cops and mowbted patrol, air force base, and massive high-tech all serging for this one man, and a question i look at is who is living in l.a. county? why are they there? what do they say about people who live here as well, and what's for dinner? [laughter] no, sorry, i take a look at the two characters, and it's found really loving the desert, and in
the valley, living for escape and salvation. >> wonderful. good. thank you. each is about a relationship, with anny's, it's a relationship between americans and their country, and their science, and in scott's book, a relationship between a father and son, and walter's book, story about himself and clark rockefeller, and in deeanne's book, a story about a hermit and county sheriff. each of these relationships live and exist on the basis of a lie of sorts. what is about the relationships, these people such as us that lead to the lives and why they exist? walter, in dwrr book, you write, what is it in people or just in people like me who would rather let a lie go by, rather wish it away or minimize it than to point it out and cause the liar
embarrassment. with that, walter, beginning with you to begin the conversation, why were you duped? >> like you, i'm here for a good story. [laughter] >> nothing freudian, then. >> without narrative, this is nuts for us. want always want a happy ending, you know, this clark rockefeller character knew that about us. he had a predatory intelligence. he saw the form abilities in his fellow men as always a sociopath without feelings can, and one of the things he noticed about us, we earthlings is that we live by enchapterment, and by providing it, he would intreg -- intrigue and draw me many particularly because i was a writer, and i live by the same
skills. >> by the enof the book, you're a collaborator, and perpetuate this. you lived with aceps of denial. you sort of knew things were going wrong, but you still perpetuated it. why do we perpetwait these things and turn an eye away from it? >> well, this rockefeller character, quickly, you know, posed as a rock feller, told me at one appointment he was an exploited bennet who was going through the walls of the apartment. invited me up to meet him in new hampshire because of the next door neighbor, and he was always at that particular time liesing me with great stories and great possibilities.
in answer to the question, what is this about? he was a german kid growing up in america, growing up in the shadow of world war ii, germany, and i think he wanted to live a big american life after being in this divided, still divided country, and you think about how germany was led into world war ii. they were given stories. they were given a story about their ultimate fate as a people. they were going to, you know, proclaim a path of glory from their mythical origins and sort of have this revival, and by taking up the entire population in the narrative, this leader, crazy man, hitler, was able to motivate people in a way that their own just raw self-interests couldn't by
making them talk to the grand opera. clark fooled me by making me a small town friend of the writer lieutenant of the crazy, ease centric millionaire and he knew he could sweep me up in the narrative, and i was ignoring consistencies along the way in order to live it out, and that was the gene yowrks and that's the yen yows of any great ma -- manipulator, to give you a narrative for the actions dm which you preserve at the cost of the ugly truth. >> walter's book is good about that degree of the story. not easy write about. speaking of germans, then, let's talk to anni for a second and see how -- how does a country lie to itself? >> you know, backing up, my
first 3w50bg, i'm looking for people to tell me their secrets pen i'm mineful people have the interests i have, and it's a dance to get them to reveal them, but one gets lucky with an unexpected lead, and that happened to me in 2007. ives at a dinner party, a scientist next to me as a man i nigh for decades leaned over and said, boy, have i got a story for you. [laughter] , and only two months prior, the cia declassified operation ox cart, the cia's bid to build the first self-aircraft, and the scientist next to me said i'm the guy who invented self, and
it went back to eisenhower, 19 1950s, and it's one story at a time, and can't answer the questions, who tells me about the bombs out there at area 51. oh, about if you meet jim friedman? that led me, that book led me to operation paper clip because i came across nazi scientists who were working on secret programs at area 51, and i didn't know about operation paper clip at the time, and i thought, researching one man in particular, and i learned quickly that he, during the war, was the head of the technical development, and that was, of course, the german air force.
the head, and not only that, but personally, goring liked him so much that he called him "my boy." then i learned that this man came to the united states shortly after the war. and who did he work for but the u.s. air force? he moved right patterson ohio, and he lived there with his wife and seven children and worked for the air force for decades, and when he retired in the mid-70s. the department of defense gave him the distinguished civilian service award. that's the highest award a scientist can get, and i thought to myself, how on earth does one go from being the most important person of a most important scientist in the pentagon. i wanted to know. the way i report stories is to find the family members, and i sought out family members, and i
find his grandson, very courageous fellow, and ending with this because i said to mim, you know, will you talk to me? he say, yes, and i said, why? he said, well, everyone in my family says, whatever you do, don't talk about what he did during the war. [laughter] he said, you know, in the age of google, it's not hard to find out what he did during the war. he said, i want to know. here's the thing, here's the rub. he said in my attic, i have a box of documents that belong to my grandchildren and up are letters of recommendations from albert and mother. how do you reconcile that, and trusted me to tell the story, and once of a number of family members of the ranking reick scientists who came here, led
entirely secret lives, and only in 1980s shows you the discrepancy between presentation and reality. >> there's a number of wonderful characters in the book, one of whom is dr. bensingger, talking about how the triewrt came out, writing in the new york times obituary for the man revealed one of the most important as pecks, u and talked about invention. >> that's right. the o pitch rare for the doctor, published in the new york times in 1993, 1999, when he was in his mid-90s, this was a great scientist, lauded him, and, you know, worked as a research scientist, and also that he invented the ear thermometer, but when i researched the
doctor, i learned that he worked very closely with henreich, and when he chose to show the reick air ministry, a film of medical murder experiments to his inner circle, he had doctors bensinger introduce the film, and i learnedded he was on the defendant list at the doctor's trial, but he was mysteriously released two weeks before into the custody of the u.s. army air force. this is that kind of reconciliation that's difficult. his son, by the way, had a different attitude than'res willing to see the trout about his grandfather. he estimates it's impossible that my father was involved in anything like that.
if he were, he wouldn't have been tried by the americans. >> stunning. >> the center point of your book is about is confrontation, and as you write it, we any to ourselves what it met from the sheriff to go walking up to the doorsteps to knock on the door to the hermit, cook, knock on cook's door, and be blown away. what do we know about what was in his mind when he was making that call? the two had interaction in traffic nine years earlier, cook tried to get sorenson taken off the sheriff's department and get him fired, and sore 234-rbgsson knew there was something, perhaps off with cook, but the way i see it, chose to not take
protection, and deny something going on there when he made the call. >> they had a strange run-in on a remote highway high noon on a -- exactly, i think it was exactly seven years prior to the time that they had this final encounter, which was very strange. during the first incident, deputy sorenson told cook over in an apparent road rage incident, and, you know, a lot of people who live in the desert are of this don't trend on me mind set. i was trying to understand that myself, getting pulled off for not having my conder plate, but
these people are off the charts with that stuff, and something that goes on in the desert and the wide open spaces is that i think sometimes personal pathologies sync up with perm rights and all bets are off. that's what happened when sorenson pulled cook over that day, and he went bonkers, came to blows then almost, and back up with choppers and so on, and so cook started filing all sorts of complaints against sorenson to get him fired and writing letters and so on, and nothing came of it other than a grudge against law enforcement. his kind of don't tread on my mind set was really sent atty 2: overdrive at that appointment and aggravated over the years due to a failed
relationship with his son. when he turned down cook's driveway in 2003, nobody really knows if he even knew he was heading down the road to the person who tried to get him fired and whom he may have almost killed years prior or cook might have, you know, they almost might have ended in the traffic encounter. they lived close, and in the valley, the so-called socialist stone hinge ruins up on highway 138, failed social community, up in the antelope valley, beautiful old stone walls, and in it sat in the shadows, that's where cook was in the utopia and others sort of -- hermits and
other outcasts, a lot of engineers, pilot, really interesting mix of people up in the desert, but he lives nearby, love the the desert himself, and it's not known if he knew he was headed down the driveway of somebody who was out to get him, and cook had been in meltdown for years. a year prior to this shoot out, he dug his own grave in the corner of the property and stent a letter to family members said in case anything happens to me, here's a map. bury me here. he drove past the grave, and, you know, i speculate in the book about whether or not he looked out the suv, rumbling down the gravel, and saw it or, you know, if -- what he must
have made of it. he knew, like, every nook and cranny on the beat, but he kept going, kept going, and why do e we -- he must have known something was off. it's a very -- he had very good instincts as a cop and kept going. how often do we ignore our instincts in doing something we know we should not do. he was a beloved cop, on call 24/7, could call him for anything, elderly people said, there's a snake in my bathroom, you know, or he'd call this three in the morning for domestic violation situation, often very deadly, out and about out there, takes two hours to get backup. he was like a real beloved figure, but television a
self-destructive thing, responding to the call, first thing cook peering out through the blind, assembling the rifle and so on, and, oh, my god. cook went ballistic and blew him away. that's the question that i pose in the book. what drew steven, a man who continually had everything to live for, just had a baby with his wife and so on, a very much part of the community, went through this for someone who had nothing to live for. relationship with his son failed after they tried to reconnect to be together, and he was melting
down with little connections to the community at that point, little to fear, had done felony time and vouched never to go back to jail. >> probably never know the answer. scott, you were 14 years old, i believe, when your father shared with you his secrets. >> yeah, i was. he told me he was a spy in a strip mall. [laughter] >> nothing like picking the time and place. >> right. he has great comic timing. >> talking before and after the revelation, i mean before then, i mean, obviously, you're a young boy at that time. did you have a sense things were off? >> yes and no.
for all intents and purposes, like any other diplomat, he worked for the foreign service, that was a reasonable response, and i was there to work with him at the embassies, and, you know, meet the u.s. marine guards and so on, and so there's nothing really odd about those years, but it takes a strange twist when i was 1 1. we had been living in pakistan, and we moved back to the united states, and we moved us to a place right outside of williamsburg, virginia, which, if you've been there, you know that it is a very surreal place. i mean, it's a recreation of 17th century colonial america. you have people with hats and black smiths and so on. well, right outside williamsburg is a secret cia training facility called camp harry, and this is actually the place where spies go to learn to be spies
and the craft. we moved there because my dad was assigned to be a professor, teacher of spies in the space, and we lived there for a couple years, and that experience was enough to sort of wet my curiosity and raise some doubts and some wonder because the place itself was very strange, and i was old enough, you know, by that point to know things were a little bit different. it was a really kind of sealed environment. there were no pizza huts, no stores or anything, just a vast wilderness with deer and lakes and a lot of spies doing very strange things. in the forest. [laughter] so that was sort of my childhood, but, really, the seed or the seed for the book actually came about years later
living in mexico. my father was living in mexico in 1968, he was a professor there at university of the americas, and if you know the mexican history, 1968 was this pivotal year. it was the year of the olympics, but it was the year of the local massacre, which was a hugely significant event, and dozens of students and protests were mowed down in a giant protest, and subsequent weeks and month, it was said they were thrown out of airplanes over the peninsula, the height of the cold war, and so there was a very, you know, strident battle going on between the united states and soviet union, and mention --
mexico was a proxy battlefield. my dad was recruited into the cia by the position as a professor at the university in 1968. okay. fast forward 33 years to 2003. i move to mexico, and two things happened, one, that year, the mexican government started releasing troves of information about what happened in 1968. a lot of the information was available through the mexican freedom of information act, and some of it was made available by a team of really good researchers at the national security archives in washington, d.c.. so suddenly, there were all these cables and state department memos, all kinds of information available about what actually happenedded during this massacre. that was the first thing. second thing was i met a woman
who was mexican, and her father was a guerrilla fighter fighting against the mexican government in 1968 when he was jailed for four years. suddenly, the past and my father's whole story became very relevant and very interesting to me as a journalist, but also his son because he was recruited the same year that the woman who i was in love with, the same year her father was put in prison. i had questions. well, one, was he involved in the massacre. two, did he know this guy, this father of my pair mori, and, three, did he have anything to do with his disappearance or anything like that, and so this question propelled me to ask, who was she? was he lying to lying to me in
1968, what he was doing, so on and so forth, and that was the theme that pushed me into writing the book because that story was so at odds with that idea of how i described before where i was going to embassies, took it at face value my dads was who he said he was because suddenly i had this very intense decision he was not who he said he was, that he was somebody entirely different, and that was disturbing because i didn't want to think my dad as somebody capable of this and faced reality that, yeah, he was a cia officer, and, yes, he was in mexico city in 1968, and then
there's this onion, you know, all sorts of questions that gurgle up, and that was kept me going from the path of the book. >> how were you involved? i get the impression from the book that the risks you took as a jumpist on afghanistan and iraq was related to this unanswered question in your own past. >> yes, i think it was. there's a myth that it's sort of conventional wisdom, i suppose, cor responsibilities out there saying these platitudes, like, well, you know, we're here to get the truth, and it's all, you know, the first version, first draft of history, stuff like that. i mean, i think there's an element of tryout to that, but i think that what really drives a lot of people who maybe spend time in incredibly dangerous situations is actually more
rooted in the personal as opposed to the entirely professional, and i think that applieded to me to a certain extent. i think people speculated to me, well, were you trying to prove yourself to your father? well, maybe. you know, were you doing putting yourselves in harm's way to create conflict? oh, maybe. [laughter] i mean, i don't know that those questions are really that easily answerable, but i think that my sort of conflicted relationship with him over the years really lended an intensity to a lot of those experiences that i had overseas. i don't know if that really answers your question. >> just fine, leads me to wonder, talking to you, walter, how does one go about resolving this? you know, had the avenue in his experience of the wartime journalist. you know, you -- you're fresh
off the trial of last year and the book, and i guess i try to understand was the book -- writing the book the after resolution for you to think about your years of the relationship? >> i got to live out a fantasy best case se yarr know for those who want revenge on those who have fooled them. [laughter] you know, i got to see the persons who had played me for a fool, led into a courtroom, in an orange jump suit, and, you know, man kls in handcuffs. i got to see him tried by a jury of those who he didn't believe were his peers, the sort of salt of the earth people of los angeles, and downtown los angeles who they thought were basically a natural servant class, you who handed him his hat in a way that the wasps of connecticut never had dared. [laughter]
and so being able to witness this, as i say, was a kind of close sure we don't get in life, and i wrote about it because i was duped and not gotten to see the person who treated you poorly, writes in prison, it's a very gut feeling, and you can read -- [laughter] my book to experience it vicariously. [laughter] you know, as i sit here and listen to presentations, i'm not sure that the topic that the statements for our panel is all that true. i'm not sure that the truth will out, you know, people have told me, you know, the victim who is buried in the yard was unearthed after nine years by a swimming pool excavator, and many years
later in 2015, he was brought justice for the murder. they forget at the same time the victim disappeared, his wife disappeared, never found. what they forget is that until 2008, had he not kidnapped his daughter, he would have got away with murder, and what nay forget is that me, a trained journalist who supposedly can see inconsistencies in people's stories and so on was fooled absolutely every single moment. the only truth we know are the ones that get out. those people who are still in ties, lies we believe to be the case, those bodies not unearthed are still there, we know they are. i don't want to be donald
rumsfeld, but -- [laughter] what we don't know we don't know. [laughter] as much as i tell myself this all comes to the surface, all confess, reach the resolution with their sons, question asking sons, i'm just not sure that it only happens rarely and seize on the moments when the truth does come out because, you know, stories are complete, and the last question before going to the microphones. as the general question for all you on? , the subjects, writing the book
for communication, what in the course of doing this research, beginning a project with certain assumptions in their mind? this is what probably will happen, and this is what i'm going to be telling the story about, putt together your book, and somehow, it always happens to through the course of research and writing the subject changes. stories res enate on a personal level. that's mainly because it's too reverse converge, and that starts my strange lessons in which i grew up on both sides of
the tracks and came into quack at an early age with america's dirty little secret which is class, and when my mother divorced an we moved to the wrong side of the tracks, we immediately came into contact with people whose voices are not heard and who count for little in the country, and i just maybe think my friend and that was my universe, said, some of our relatives from the right side of the tracks stopped talking to us because of where we were living, and i'm in there with also my lifelong love that began during that time. my dad used to read, and so some of you know, i would escape into it, and begin living in it, and in my mind, and soul, really, became my escape road out of
ohio, and someday i knew i wanted to be a writer and move west, and i did, and i'm happy, and certain stories call me during my desert wanderings, and stories always involve the voiceless whether it's people or animals or the land, and when i hermit, and dozens and dozens turned on the tv and saw that there was this shootout that just happened, and for where's the fire reporting, but this happen hunt ends in giant con flyability. others are involved, and i was in the middle of the book, but
turnedded out there was these amazing characters, the hermit who's friends were animals like bob cats, ravens, and a rattlesnake as the valet at the front door. he looed the desert like i did and so did the deputy, an outcast even though he was a cop, left los angeles to do live in the desert. they both wanted to be left alone, and i kind of identify with that,mented to take care of the land in their own weird ways, and so i didn't -- that's -- my only assumption was these were characters who interested me, and what happened and where does it happen? i those are the only reasons i go into things. >> for me, i have high hopes and low expectations with different sources, but i know keep rowing,
eventually something gives, and the vignette that i can tell about this has to do with two sources in my book "operation paper clip" that i wanted to interview. one, the son of the deputy surgeon general of the third reick, and dr. blom, and then my favorite chemist dr. ambrose, and they are known in the late 770s, early 80s, and i sought them out in germany, berlin, and outside the alps to talk to me, and the process of doing that was interesting to talk about their fathers and their role in operation paper clip, and dr. ambrose only let me go so far, and, mind you, the father was one of the few paper clips that was actually convicted of mass murder, but was given clemency by the u.s., taken out
of the prison and given a contract with the u.s. department of energy. worked at ash wits, and when i said this, you know, we got so far in the discussions by e-mail, and i said, does the family know about your father's past? suddenly, he went cold, and he said, this is a private matter. dr. blom, on the other hand, father was deputy surgeon general of the third reick, by the fur called the golden party badge, and he also was tried at newspaperberg, but in a brilliantly acquitted, but dr. blom agreed to let me interview him, and i went to the alps, the top of the mountain behind a church, down a hill, and into dr. blom's house, and i met this man. he lives with a legacy, his
father, and what i learned from him was so memorable and important to me in truth telling that it makes up for those who won't tell you anything because it's a private matter. i'm easy to get the truth out. i wrote my book on the shoulders of so many incredible journalists, historians, academics who came before me, and i believe others will be inspired me, other journalists of the next generation, and i hope hay get the real story of dr. ambrose. >> all right. i have more questions, but only dpair i turn it over to you. there's microphones here, if you'd like to cue up there, if -- let's see, do we have any takers? brief question.
>> you have not made value judgments, so you said reyou requester lied to, misled, and we read the obituaries, people did good when they came here, so while the terrible aspect of it, greater good the conclusion or not? >> you know, that is the great moral question, and i raise it in the book, and i hope i ask readers to answer that for themselves, because one must always keep in mind when keel dealing with history, that long lens of history, and, of course, you know this threat of the soviet union at the time in the cold war was so great there was the idea if we don't get the nazi scientists, the soviets will. >> we have to wonder, talking about resolution, has your father read the book? >> yes, he has. ..
predatory my own action was and my own behavior. you know, my book is called "the wolf and the watchman," and i think a lott of people -- a lot of people think, oh, obviously the father in this scenario is the wolf, you know, the wolf spy and the journal watchman, but i deliberately chose the title because i think there is a lot of ambiguity built into the journalist/subject relationship, and i think journalists, you know, can be incredibly predatory. and at least in my case, i felt like this whole exercise of investigating my father, you know, who he was as a man, as a spy, investigating his past and also placing myself in all of those equations, it wound up actually being very uncomfortable, you know, in many cases for both him and me. so i applaud his openness and willingness to sort of allow me into his life in such an
intimate way, and i think that was the greatest sort of gift he could have given me. >> yeah. i like that answer. reading your four books, it led me thinking that in order to be lied to, we have to recognize our own capacity to lie. it's sort of that dance you were sort of talking about earlier. >> yeah. >> oh, thank you. thank you all for taking on emotionally and in some cases technically extremely difficult challenges in writing your books. i'm trying to do research on a subject related to a family member who did secret work during the war, and i'm wondering if, scott and any in particular, have advice for people who are researching now somewhat declassified work about the people who are most relevant and who are very, very elderly are still feeling very bound by their sworn lifelong secrets, yeah, to hold onto those secrets. >> yeah. i